Sunday 25 August 2019

Letters to the Editor: 'Johnson and Hunt need reminding of shared history before they wreak havoc with no deal'

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt. Photo: PA
Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt. Photo: PA
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

One of the most dispiriting elements of Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt's desire to get rid of the backstop is their dismissal of Ireland. Their no-deal Brexit will force a hard Border on a now peaceful land; it will harm Ireland more than any other country in the EU. The UK is by far Ireland's largest export market.

May I remind them of our shared history. For 800 years England was politically and militarily involved in Ireland. Ireland was colonised with settlers from Great Britain, in plantations - land was confiscated and severe penal laws imposed on Catholics to consolidate Anglican power. For Catholics there was a ban on the custody of orphans; prohibition on owning a horse valued at over £5; exclusion from most public office including representation in parliament; they were not allowed to possess weaponry and arms, study law or medicine, speak or read Gaelic, play Irish music; Catholic inherited land had to be divided between the owner's sons unless the eldest son converted to Protestantism. Divide and conquer.

Oliver Cromwell's four-year conquest of Ireland in the 17th century was the most brutal phase of English dominion. By its close, more than half of Ireland's pre-war population had been killed or exiled as slaves, where many died due to harsh conditions.

Eventually, Ireland broke free, in 1922, six years after the Easter Rising. And then partition. Six of the 32 counties remained in the British union.

Mr Johnson and Mr Hunt are welcome to visit the spot at Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin where the leaders of that Irish rebellion were executed in 1916. Amongst them were teachers, barristers, poets, writers, nationalists and journalists.

It is a sobering place. It is a place to contemplate the meaning of freedom and independence. I wonder if Mr Johnson and Mr Hunt equate what the EU has 'done' to the UK as being equivalent to what Britain has 'done' to Ireland?

Alison Hackett

Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin

Calling out phone folly at send-off for Brendan

Thank you for giving well deserved front-page coverage of the funeral of Ireland's most loved comedian/entertainer, Brendan Grace.

How many of your readers share my disgust at the number of camera phones visible in your picture. I counted 11 phones pointing at the casket (and grieving family) as Brendan's remains were carried through his much-loved Liberties.

Surely such disrespect wouldn't have been tolerated in Dublin, in the 'Rare Auld Times'?

Danny Brennan

Co Kilkenny

Funding of Church schools is falling on the parents

Thanks to Katherine Donnelly for once again highlighting the myth that underlies the notion of Ireland's "free education system".

ESRI statistics show the extent of Government discrimination against and underfunding of Church secondary schools and their 200,000 students and their families.

What is rarely appreciated is that when compared with Education Training Board community schools, Church schools get 20pc less capitation. In addition, in the case of Church schools, the Department of Education holds back €562 per school teacher from allocated budgets. The average Catholic secondary is underfunded by approximately €30,000 and it falls upon parents to make up this shortfall.

With this in mind I join fellow parents in paying an annual much-needed voluntary contribution, which averages €150 per student. Sadly these voluntary contribution requests are likely to continue for as long as government discriminatory underfunding of Church schools continues.

Alan Whelan

Killarney, Co Kerry

It's time to find some real work for the EU officials

I laugh at those who say Ireland should remain in sync with British time. If they knew their history, they would know that Irish time was 30 minutes ahead of British time until Easter 1916. The 'Rising' caught the Brits by surprise, due to the time difference of the two nations. The immediate response, when the dust had settled in the GPO, was to standardise the time in Ireland with Britain.

Here in Australia the moans about time change range from "extra daylight fading the curtains" to the "cows will be confused at milking time", but the reality is that time zones vary, because the Sun is eternally on the move. 'Time' per se is merely an imaginary thing.

EU officials have little to do if changing the clock is such an important matter. More akin to Swift's war between the 'big enders' and 'little enders'.

Alas, real politik, everywhere, is with 'O'Leary in the grave'.

As for time being in sync with Northern Ireland: the calendar, let alone the time, or thinking, has not changed since 1690. Some in the Dáil reside either in the Stone Age, or 'take care of our clique' age.

Aye indeed, "if we only had time".

Declan Foley

Berwick, Australia

Concern over crowded classes is sign of the times

I was amazed at the heading on your story "Two-thirds of primary school pupils stuck in overcrowded classes" (July 16) and further down the article "4 to 12-year-olds face classes with an average of 24.3 pupils". I know times have changed but it must be time to seriously consider class sizes. I attended the Old Mon School, on Lombard Street, in Galway City, in the early 1940s. If class sizes of 24.3 pupils are considered too big, what do you call class sizes of 70 to 80 pupils. When I was in first class in 1942-43, Bro Aidan had to teach a class of 80 pupils. All the other teachers had about the same number of pupils in their classes.

I know 80 pupils per class is too many but 24 pupils is too few. If the Patrician Brothers could teach class sizes of 70 to 80 pupils with the minimum of teaching aids, it must be possible for the teachers of today with all the teaching aids at their disposal to teach in the region of 30 to 40 per class.

Desmond Nolan

Annaghdown, Co Galway

Ballroom layout could send dancers off the rails

As one who grew up in Bray, I very much enjoyed Frank Coughlan's musings on the old Arcadia ballroom.

I remember dancing with an English girl there one night, and she was less than impressed with the layout. She said the building reminded her of a railway station, and queried as to why I had bothered going there. "I'm waiting for a train," I replied.

Tom Gilsenan

Beaumont, Dublin 9

Summer school can once again give us all a lesson

It's MacGill time once again. The eyes of the world will be on us. A very busy week indeed, entitled: 'A global crisis: can the centre hold?'

May I just wish all the speakers and visitors a very successful and enjoyable week here in the lovely town of 'The Glenties'.

Brian Mc Devitt

Glenties, Co Donegal

Should there be a people's vote on EU's president?

Ursula von der Leyen was elected president of the European Union with the support of 52pc of the MEPs who voted. Did I miss the protests from the anti-Brexit mob calling for a rerun because nobody knew what they were voting for?

Maurice O'Brien

Berkshire, England

Rallying cry should be turned back on Trump

I spent some time in the US. I heard Trump's supporters scream: "Lock her up, lock her up."

Now he has them screaming: "Send her back, send her back."

How long will it be before they are screaming: "Sieg Heil, Sieg Heil"? The ordinary people in the States must see what is happening and use the ballot box to "get him out, get him out".

John Burke

Co Waterford

Irish Independent

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